Blessed Dominic Barberi, was born in Viterbo, Italy on May 22, 1792. At 22 years of age, after repeated heavenly inspirations, God called him to the religious life and ministry. He left farming work, abandoned all other plans for his future, and entered the Passionist Congregation. There he developed his extraordinary qualities of mind and heart. Ordained priest, he devoted himself to teaching, to the ministry of the word, to spiritual direction and the composition of numerous writings of philosophical, theological, pastoral and ascetic nature. In 1840, he established the first Passionist community outside of Italy in Ere, Belgium. He subsequently went to England where in 1842 he inaugurated the monastery of Aston Hall, near Stone.
Blessed Dominic consecrated and offered his life for the unity of the Church — the mission to which he had been called by God and to which he devoted himself with great love and with many initiatives from the time of his youth. He longed for the return of the “separated brethren” to the Catholic Church — an expression coined by him. He made a heroic vow to renounce all material and spiritual consolation and offered himself to the Lord for the conversion of England.
He anticipated by 150 years the ecumenical movement based on love, dialogue, respect for conscience and mutual discernment. His interpersonal relations were intellectually profound, doctrinally impeccable and humanly friendly, respectful and caring, i.e. a rapport that is Christian and consequently, fruitful. Through him, the Anglican breathed the fresh air of a new springtime. Through his works many Anglicans, including distinguished individuals, returned to the Catholic Church. Blessed Dominic received the profession of faith of the future Cardinal and now Blessed John Henry Newman, esteemed by all as “the Pope of the Protestants, their great spokesman, one of the most learned men of England”. Newman admired Blessed Dominic as a simple and inspiring priest, learned and holy. He stated that he was Dominic’s “convert and penitent”.
Domenic died in Reading, near London, England on August 27, 1849. His grave in Sutton, St. Helens, England has become a place of pilgrimage for the English people. Pope Paul VI declared him “Blessed” on October 27, 1963 during Vatican II offering him as an example of commitment to ecumenism and joyfully proclaiming him to be an Apostle of unity.
Lord, you sent Blessed Dominic to seek out the lost sheep of your flock by preaching your truth and witnessing to your love. May we follow his example and build up the unity of your Church as a sign of faith and love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, for ever and ever.